Among the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio begins its second season under Jeff Boals’ leadership on the road. 

Ohio will travel to Champaign, Illinois for a three-game stint against the first half of its non-conference schedule. The three games will be part of a round robin with Chicago State, North Carolina A&T and No.8 ranked Illinois. The next three days will be a tone setter for how well Ohio has adapted to a season under strict pandemic guidelines.

Here’s what you need to know about the three teams Ohio will face over Thanksgiving break:

Wednesday

Opponent: Chicago State Cougars

Game time: 5 p.m.

Venue: State Farm Center

Watch: FightingIllini.com

Listen: Ohio IMG Sports Network

Thursday

Opponent: North Carolina A&T Aggies

Game time: 3 p.m.

Venue: State Farm Center

Watch: FightingIllini.com

Listen: Ohio IMG Sports Network

Friday

Opponent: Illinois Fighting Illini

Game time: 1 p.m.

Venue: State Farm Center

Watch: Big Ten Network

Listen: Ohio IMG Sports Network

Likely Starters

20 Da’Monte Williams

11 Ayo Dosunmu

1 Trent Frazier

15 Giorgi Bezhanishvili

21 Kofi Cockburn

Reserves

5 Andre Curbelo

44 Adam Miller

22 Austin Hutcherson

3 Jacob Grandison

13 Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk

33 Coleman Hawkins

Notes on the opponents

Chicago State

After a disastrous 4-25 record last season, the Cougars were predicted to finish last in the Western Athletic Conference’s Preseason Coaches Poll. Head coach Lance Irvin is entering his third season leading the Cougars, but the faith that he can turn it around is slim. Chicago State hasn’t won more than five games in a single season since the 2016-17 season.

North Carolina A&T

The Aggies are in better standings to begin the season. They were predicted to finish second in the Southern Division of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference after a 12-4 conference record in 2019-20. 

Outside of the MEAC, A&T can’t keep its head above water. The Aggies struggled with a 5-11 record against non-conference opponents last season. Ohio can only hope that record translates to this season as well.

Illinois

The No. 8 ranked team in the NCAA needs no introduction. Illinois is walking into Champaign as the team to beat. Returning stars Ayo Dosunmu and sophomore Kofi Cockburn are poised to lead the Illini’s daunting offense, while incoming freshman Adam Miller has been the talk of his recruiting class. 

The Illini are a well-rounded team predicted to grapple with Iowa for the Big Ten title this season. It's a longshot among longshots, but if Ohio can pull a fast one over the Illini, its hopes for the season will blow through the roof.

@thejackgleckler

jg011517@ohio.edu